A multiple-pass laser amplifier that uses optical focusing between subsequent passes through a single gain medium so that a reproducibly stable beam size is achieved within the gain region. A confocal resonator or White Cell resonator is provided, including two or three curvilinearly shaped mirrors facing each other along a resonator axis and an optical gain medium positioned on the resonator axis between the mirrors (confocal resonator) or adjacent to one of the mirrors (White Cell). In a first embodiment, two mirrors, which may include adjacent lenses, are configured so that a light beam passing through the gain medium and incident on the first mirror is reflected by that mirror toward the second mirror in a direction approximately parallel to the resonator axis. A light beam translator, such as an optical flat of transparent material, is positioned to translate this light beam by a controllable amount toward or away from the resonator axis for each pass of the light beam through the translator. The optical gain medium may be solid-state, liquid or gaseous medium and may be pumped longitudinally or transversely. In a second embodiment, first and second mirrors face a third mirror in a White Cell configuration, and the optical gain medium is positioned at or adjacent to one of the mirrors. Defocusing means and optical gain medium cooling means are optionally provided with either embodiment, to controllably defocus the light beam, to cool the optical gain medium and to suppress thermal lensing in the gain medium.